Most of the journalists arrested on 1st February 2006 during demonstrations against King Gyanendra’s seizure of absolute power one year ago on 1st February 2005, were released that same evening. Twenty-four were freed in Kathmandu from a police post at Singha Durbar after three hours. Twenty-two journalists were released in the same way in Jhapa, in the east of the country. At least 15 are still being held.
More than 50 journalists arrested in black day for press freedom
Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage at the arrests today of more than 50 journalists while participating in demonstrations held throughout the country in protest against King Gyanendra’s seizure of absolute power exactly one year ago.
“This new violent reaction by the security forces confirms the royal government’s hatred for journalists and press freedom,” the organisation said.
At least 31 journalists were arrested by anti-riot police in Kathmandu while demonstrating in the New Road and Bhotahity districts. They included many reporters and members of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), the organiser of these demonstrations. Among those detained were FNJ president Bishnu Nishthuri, vice-presidents Gangadhar Parajuli and Sanjaya Santoshi Rai, secretary Balaram Baniya, treasurer Hemanta Kafle, members Surya Thapa, Ramji Dahal and Binod Pahadi and former president Harihar Birahi.
The journalists had gathered at 4 p.m. in New Road, where they brandished black flags and banners, chanted slogans denouncing the regime’s autocratic and repressive nature, and called for the restoration of press freedom and democracy.
The detained journalists also included Mahendra Pande, Kedar Koirala, Bindu Kanta Ghimire, Kishor Shrestha, Narendra Saud, Rupak Adhikari, Roshan Karki, Sarala Gautam, Bharat Raj Pokharel, Rojen Rai, Krishna Humagain, Tirtha Nyaupane, Yadav Devkota, Lavadev Dhungana, Nandarishi Nyaupane, Amar Raj Dhakal, Leelanath Ghimire, Ramesh KC, Dinesh Karki, Narayan Datta Kandel, Suman Malla and Himal Media editor Kanak Mani Dixit. Most of them were taken to the Singadurbar Ward police station. Two were taken to the Janasewa police station.
About 12 of them were injured by water cannon during skirmishes with the police. One of them, Ramesh Bishta, sustained a serious knee injury.
Twenty-four other journalists were stopped by police in Dhankuta, in the eastern province of Jhapa. They included Gopal Gadtaula, Mohan Kaji, Taramani Sapkota, Ramesh Samadarshi Rai, Leela Baral, Govinda Chandra Kshetri, Krishna Mishra, Raju Adhikari, Laxmi Upreti, Akraj Giri, Rajendra Gautam, Subrat Nyaupane, Umakanta Khanal, Shekhar Shedhain, Bishnu Rimal, Govinda Pokhrel,Narayan Khadka, Himal Birahi, Meen Pakrash Upreti, Parbat Portel, Prem Aacharya and Saabendra Niraula.
Journalists were also arrested in other towns, including Kaski, Ilam, Khotang, Udaypur, Tapjejung Banke. They were all reportedly released about four hours later.
More than 273 arrests of journalists have been registered in the past 12 months.